UPDATE: Nabokov with a groin injury, as I said last night, and will be out “indefinitely”. That’s about a month for a goalie and a groin.Ladies and gentlemen, meet Justin Goldman, one of the brighter people I know who scouts goalies and has a real feel for the position himself.Take it away Justin….
Justin Goldman: As a goalie that never played at the pro level before, I never consider myself a goalie expert. But I’ve been blessed with very intelligent vision, and was born with natural goaltending skills that I’ve been honing for 18 years. I have an intimate and unique understanding of the position, both technically and mentally, and have been fortunate to play as high as the collegiate level, despite being born and raised in Dallas, Texas.
Education has always been at the forefront of my life, so I have been writing since age 15. I am a true independent; I built my own company from scratch in 2007 and have been building a reputation as one of the world’s only independent pro goalie scouts since 2009. I currently write for NHL.com and DobberHockey.com, and have also been covering the Colorado Avalanche professionally since the 2006-07 season. I acquired GoaliePost.com over the summer, and as an independent scout, provide goalie analysis and reports for numerous scouting services, websites and radio programs. You can find me on Twitter @TheGoalieGuild and I love hearing from hockey fans!
BD: And now zee questions….How can knee issues and the type of surgeries DP has had affect a goalies playing style? As I broke a few years ago, he actually had to have a corrective surgery on his knee when the first one did not seem to do the trick. How can this affect playing style or the quality of play in goal? If so, can it affect it permanently?
Are their examples of players who have comeback at a high-level to his type of injuries? What of DP’s recurring issue of swollen knees that came up big two seasons ago, and still came up every-so-often last season? Is this something that will continue, in your opinion?
Have you seen any difference in DP’s style before his plethora of injuries and now? IF so, what is particular strikes you as concerning or comforting?
Even when healthy, DP’s Save% and Goals Against have not quite been anywhere near what they were years ago. Is this something that is a concern?
Of course. But a lot of what he’s doing performance-wise is tied to the team’s play in front of him. It doesn’t take a scout to see that he’s not the same goalie he was a few years ago. Injuries erode a goalie’s ability to move and execute at a high level. DiPietro has suffered from more “erosion” than any other high-level NHL goalie at his age. Between him and Ray Emery, these guys are almost medical miracles in the sense they are still considered two of the top 60 goalies in the world, and still stopping pucks in the NHL.
As a scout who has seen a lot of goalies, what is your take on DP’s playing simply gauging the quality of the play, and not worrying about the contract or injury history?
DiPietro is an elite talent when healthy. His natural reactions and footwork is simply outstanding. He has really active hands, he’s one of the best puck-moving goalies in the world, and he’s a battler. He has a positive mindset, he’s mentally tough and he’s capable of stealing wins. It is impossible to not bring the contract and injuries into play, however, because that has a major influence in the emotional elements of goaltending. Every goalie will tell you that the position is mostly mental; what he has gone through would break a normal man’s heart and shatter their confidence. But he never gives up. That is to be commended, and I think most fans should give him credit for not retiring. He is under intense pressure to make up for lost time, and even though his body might not be able to handle it, he still fights. That plays a big role in how he plays in a game, and says a lot about his current situation – he’s still out there. He owes that to the fans and ownership, and they owe it to him to try and cheer him on. It may sound silly, but getting support from the fans goes a long way in helping him.
Al Montoya has been one of the better goalies in stats over the summer, and even this season. Is the stats indicative of what you see on the ice by him? Is he approaching the projections and expectations the NYR had originally when he was a prospect? It seemed that he was always a good solid blue chip prospect, and merely got supplanted by Lundqvist in NY and then with Bryzagalov in Phoenix.
Montoya is the type of goaltender that thrives on a heavier workload. The more he plays, the better he performs. When he gets consistent minutes, he’s capable of playing very well because he’s in a good rhythm, there’s no rust, he’s confident, and he’s gaining valuable experience. Most goalies have a tie-in between performance and workload. They need to play in order to play better. Playing intermittently makes life too difficult. While playing in San Antonio (AHL), he was never able to get into a good rhythm because he split time with Matt Climie. Considered as his backup, Montoya struggled to come off the bench and play well. When he got the call from Snow, he thrived due in large part to the consistent starts he received. He blossomed quickly and surprised a lot of people, but he always had that skill-set. He’s a very good goalie that will only get better if he gets some more exposure and some more opportunity.
Nabokov remains as one of the 3rd heads of this goalie carousel. What is your take on his play lately, and do you think he has something to offer other teams vying for the playoffs if the Isles do indeed trade him?
The Isles have several in the minor leagues that are potential answers in goal. One who struck me the day he was picked and seems to be panning out exactly how I thought is one Kevin Poulin. Have you seen him play at all, and have any thoughts on potentially what he can be for the Isles in goal on the NHL level?
Additionally, the Isles have Anders Nilsson and Mkiko Kosikinen… have you had a chance to see either, or have any opinion on them?
As a goalie scout, who would be your money choice the the Isles goalie of “now”? How about the goalie of “future”?
I think the Islanders owe it to DiPietro to give him every chance possible to succeed as the Isles goalie of “now” … while he’s healthy enough to play. There are a lot of politics involved in goaltending, which I’m sure most people don’t really consider, but do know exist. DiPietro’s contract is one of them. He makes too much money and is around for too long to be benched on a consistent basis. He has to play, and that’s why you’ll see some interesting decisions from Jack Capuano, despite the play of Montoya at times.
I think Nilsson has a chance to be the goalie of the future. You can’t pass up giving him an opportunity because Swedish goalies have advantages in terms of their skill level that goalies in North America simply don’t have right now. He has valuable experience as a pro in Sweden and that translates to a guy that displays poise, consistency and confidence. Nilsson should be given a chance to play as much as possible in Bridgeport this year, then maybe fight for a job with the Islanders next year.
About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.